Diesel cars and trucks get a bad rap for the perceived pollutants they put out.
Everyone’s heard horror stories about being stuck behind a semi-truck pouring out black smoke for miles.
Thankfully, new ultra low sulfur diesel is reducing the harmful pollutants produced by diesel engines. Keep reading to find out how low sulfur diesel works and why it’s such a big deal.
What is Ultra Low Sulfur Diesel?
In 2001, the EPA created the Highway Diesel Program to reduce the amount of sulfur in diesel vehicles. It mandates a 97% reduction of sulfur oxides in diesel fuel, down to 15 ppm from a previous limit of 500 ppm.
Ultra low sulfur diesel was born from this law. It went into effect in 2006 and post-2007 all new diesel engines were designed to run on ultra low sulfur diesel.
They incorporate what’s called a particulate filter to help remove even more harmful pollutants from their exhaust. Diesel fuel itself is a heavier petroleum product that’s related to other fuels like furnace oil.
The benefits of ULSD are obvious. It massively reduces the amount of sulfur oxides being introduced into the environment.
Sulfur dioxide, the most common sulfur oxide, is a known skin and respiratory irritant. By reducing diesel emissions of it the EPA hopes to lower the total amount in the atmosphere.
Most European nations have been using ULSD as the standard highway fuel for years. The move to switch was lauded as a sensible measure for overall pollution reduction.
Other hydrocarbons are also significantly reduced by the switch to ULSD. If you’ve ever seen a big truck ‘rolling coal’ you know that diesel can produce a lot of smoke.
Because ULSD has such greatly reduced pollutants it burns nearly as cleanly as gasoline. This is a major breakthrough as diesel engines are generally more fuel efficient than gas ones.
Like any highly processed petrochemical product costs increase as filtering does. ULSD is slightly more expensive than the product it replaces but it more than makes up for this with the reduced pollutants.
The process that removes sulfur compounds from diesel also destroys some lubricating and deposit reducing compounds. This means your engine will have to work a little bit harder to function at full efficiency.
Check the Label
If you drive a new model vehicle it’s extremely important you check before you pump any diesel. The particulate filters and other pollution-reducing devices they contain don’t function properly with other fuels.
You’ll produce much more sulfur dioxide when burning something like off-road diesel. Your engine will also be significantly damaged over time because of the impurities.
Even worse, burning nonapproved fuels will likely void your manufacturer’s warranty. Look on the decal or handle of the pump. Since December of 2010, all pumps dispensing ULSD must be clearly labeled.
Do Your Part
By purchasing a fuel-efficient clean diesel vehicle you can save money and help reduce pollution. Ultra low sulfur diesel reduces the emission of several harmful compounds and helps your engine run smoother and cleaner.
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